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Israel criticised over opening of ‘Apartheid road’ in West Bank

Israel has come under criticism for the opening of a new highway in the occupied West Bank, separating Palestinian and Israeli traffic between villages of Anata and Azzayim.

The newly opened route 4370, which Palestinians have dubbed as the “apartheid road”, segregates the road into two separate two way lanes with a high wall in the middle, topped with fencing. The western side allows Palestinians in the West Bank to go around Jerusalem while the eastern side allows Israeli settlers to enter and leave Jerusalem. Palestinians cannot enter the city without an Israeli military-issued permit.

Route 4370 runs northeast of Jerusalem, past the settlement of Maale Adumin, also known as E-1, built on illegally occupied land. E-1 is situated on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem and is an area that the Israeli authorities reportedly want to expand, as part of plans to redraw the borders of Jerusalem.

By expanding Jerusalem’s borders further east, Palestinians have stated there will be more room for settlement growth. Annexing E-1 would leave around 140,000 Palestinians living in villages such as Anata displaced. The annexation could also lead to further fragmentation of the West Bank by bisecting northern cities of Palestine from the south, threatening a future Palestinian state.

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories spokesperson’s office said, “the construction of the new road was intended to shorten and optimise travel times for Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria.”

However, representatives from both the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing and the Ministry of Transportation have said that they were not informed about the opening of the new highway.

Jihad Shobaki, an officer at the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works said, “the main purpose of the road is to connect Maale Adumin with Jerusalem and to separate Palestinians from their land, especially people from Anata.”

See more from Al Jazeera here.